By Randy Murray, Fort Stewart Public AffairsAugust 15, 2008
FORT STEWART, GA -- The Army wants you to do your civic duty. Vote! Soldiers and Family members eligible to vote are being encouraged by the Army to take part in the political process, to register and vote in their state primaries and the national election this November.
Information about voter registration deadlines, state primary dates and absentee ballot applications is provided through the chain of command down to the platoon level with trained voting assistance officers.
Capt. Valerie Foddrill is the voting assistance officer for the 3rd Infantry Division, and Judy Waynick, deputy human resource director is the voting assistance officer for Fort Stewart and Hunter Army Airfield Garrison Command.
When we were in theater, [XVIII Airborne] Corps provided all the voting information we needed," Foddrill said then made a hand gesture toward Waynick. "We got back in June, and I got together with Ms. Waynick, who helped us get on-board [with voter awareness efforts]."
Waynick and Foddrill said their offices were involved in several initiatives to promote voter awareness, including posters, fliers and Marne Blast, not to mention weekly articles in The Frontline newspaper and Marne Television.
"We also encourage in-processing Soldiers to register to vote, directing them to the voting assistance officer," Waynick said. "The Army is putting a lot of emphasis on voting this year."
She said Soldiers and Family members often ask about absentee ballot deadlines. For example, the deadline to request an absentee ballots from Puerto Rico is Sept. 4. Deadlines vary by state.
Through their VAO at the brigade level, they can find the answer to most voting questions in a Department of Defense publication, the 2008-2009 Voting Assistance Guide.
"The only question I've found not covered in the book had to do with a disabled Soldier," Waynick said.
"How do you register to vote when you have no arms' We found out that a person in that situation can have a close relative with a power of attorney fill out the registration card for him and send it in with a copy of the power of attorney."
In addition to voting assistance officers armed with the Voting Assistance Guide, Soldiers can access a wealth of voting information through Army Knowledge Online.
The Uniformed and Overseas Citizens Absentee Voting Act, which was signed by President Ronald Reagan in 1986 requires all states and U.S. territories allow U.S. citizens to register to vote in federal elections.
The concept behind the program is to foster voting participation and to protect and improve the electoral process in federal, state and local elections.
The program specifically forbids voting assistance officers from distributing partisan literature or promoting information about candidates, political parties or partisan organizations.
Armed Forces Voters Week is Aug. 31 through Sept. 7.
Units are encouraged to plan for voting assistance activities and non-partisan voter registration drives.
Absentee Voting Week is Oct. 12-18. Soldiers and Family members will be encouraged to return their ballots, and if they haven't received their ballot to use the Federal Write-In Absentee Ballot, available through AKO or VAO.